Rivals set to combine forces

Skaters from the Lake Placid and Saranac Lake girls hockey teams battle on the ice at the Olympic Center during a game played on January 10. The teams will merge next season. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education unanimously approved two different and distinct sports mergers with the Saranac Lake Central School District for the 2017-18 school year at Tuesday’s regularly scheduled board meeting.

A football merger entails that students from Lake Placid High School may play football for Saranac Lake Central School District’s modified through varsity teams, effective only for next school year.

A girls ice hockey merger is termed as a “merged identity” between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

“With costs to be split between the (two) school districts,” School Board President Mary Dietrich said.

Both mergers were approved unanimously, five votes for and zero against, as board members Jeffery Brownell and Linda O’Leary were absent.

“A simple thank you,” School Board Vice President Rick Preston said about the football merger. “I think it’s a great addition.”

At the meeting, board member Patti Gallagher asked Lake Placid Schools Superintendent Roger Catania how the information would get out to students. Catania replied that many students were already well aware of the potential merger and have expressed interest.

“Probably through the athletics program,” he replied, “but I’ll let you know the students already know and are awaiting this. A lot of students have been talking about it and some of them have made a point of coming to talk to me about it, but many of them have already talked to the athletic director (Donna Moody) about it.”

The girls ice hockey merger is also for one year with Saranac Lake, though Lake Placid students won’t play for Saranac Lake, rather on a combined team. Catania added that the merger also approves the inclusion of Tupper Lake students on the 2017-18 combined team, the same students who last year played for Lake Placid.

Board member Patricia Stanton then inquired if the approved resolution would be flexible enough to include girls ice hockey players from other schools such as AuSable Valley, from which students have played for Lake Placid in the past. Dietrich said their inclusion would require another merger resolution approval.

Catania has said the district wants to merge girls ice hockey because Athletic Director Donna Moody brought the issue of waning numbers of girls ice hockey players to his attention in February. Catania also has stressed that, beyond next year, it appears Lake Placid would not have the minimum number of girls to field a hockey team, increasing the likelihood for mergers in subsequent years as well. He also has said the team would be led by one lead coach from each school.